IKEA Chief: We're Leading America's LED Lighting Revolution

LED bulbIKEA is setting out to change the way you light your home, one bulb at a time.

The Swedish retailer announced plans this week to become the first U.S. home furnishings chain to sell only LED (light emitting diode) bulbs and lamps by 2016 -- a bold push for the widespread adoption of this energy-efficient light source in the American market.

The world's biggest home retailer will phase out its non-LED lighting over the next few years.

Integral to that plan is educating the U.S. consumer about the many benefits of LED lighting: LEDs are not only more eco-friendly than incandescent bulbs, but also use 85% less energy and are therefore less expensive over time, Mike Ward, president of IKEA USA, told DailyFinance.

But selling the idea won't be a slam dunk, as the initial cost outlay for LED bulbs far exceeds that of incandescent bulbs, Ward concedes. A 40-watt LED bulb costs about $12 at IKEA, whereas an incandescent bulb ranges from approximately 49 cents to 79 cents.

But what most Americans (about 73%) don't know is that LED bulbs last 20 years, according to Wakefield Research cited by IKEA. Incandescent bulbs, by contrast, last only about a year, Ward said.

So far in the U.S., only about 40% of homes have an LED light source -- compared to 60% to 70% of European homes and 80% of Chinese households.

So the onus is on IKEA to answer the obvious consumer question: "'Why would I spend $12 [on a light bulb]?' he said. "We need to tell the story that there is an energy savings [with LED bulbs, which also] help to reduce the carbon footprint: We know there is a huge interest [among consumers] when it comes to trying them out because they're much better for the environment and save a lot of money."

To help incentivize shoppers to make the switch, IKEA has committed to offering the lowest priced LED bulb in the U.S., even undercutting rivals like Home Depot (HD). "We'll maintain a price difference from our competitors," Ward said.

While the price of a 40-watt LED bulb starts at about $14 today, IKEA is selling them for about $12, he said, "and we'll be reducing the prices in stages every year between now and 2016."

Right now, the total annual cost savings of swapping out a 40-watt incandescent bulb for an LED bulb is $6.25, which includes the bulb's purchase price and the energy consumption cost, according to IKEA.

Beyond the savings, the retailer also wants to drive home the message that the light from LEDs "is beautiful, creates atmosphere and can be dimmed," Ward said.

Shoppers can also expect to see a renaissance in lighting design, now that manufacturers no longer have to design around the traditional clunky round light bulb, as LED lamps are powered by "tiny little diodes," he said.

Like many European retailers, IKEA was eco-friendly before green became trendy in the U.S., so this latest move should come as little surprise.

IKEA's green conscience dates back to the 1960s, when it developed its flat-pack shipping strategy -- designed to reduce transportation costs to mitigate the impact of fuel usage on the environment.

The retailer phased out plastic bags in 2007, stopped selling incandescent bulbs in 2010, and will phase out CFLs (compact florescent light) and halogen bulbs by 2016.

"We've made it our mission to let people live a more sustainable life at home," Ward said.

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22 Comments

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EdithCanon

20 Years that's too long, I wonder if it lasts that long. But haven't tried LED yet, will certainly check that one out. I just like the fact that it can help save on your electric bill charges. USALEDSolutions.com

October 07 2012 at 11:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

According to me I pay $12 for a light that used to cost me under $1.00. Oh, and I can easily see the cost reduction on my monthly electric bill. Sure.

October 05 2012 at 1:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Mark's comment
kevin

And it lasts you 20x longer.
Aside from electric costs, lifetime alone makes them make sense.

October 07 2012 at 10:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark

According to me I pay $12 for a light that used to cost me under $1.00. Oh, and I can easily see the cost reduction on my monthly electric bill. Sure.

October 05 2012 at 12:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
LizAndrsn

But -- how do you dispose of them?
Those stupid coil bulbs aren\'t being handled properly, and most likely wil cause the next worst problem for landfills that they were trying to avoid.

October 04 2012 at 8:28 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to LizAndrsn's comment
atrident

LED are not cfl.big difference. Get educated before you speak.

October 04 2012 at 8:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tbensonny

I have a few LED bulbs around my house, both inside and out. Bought them to help a group of engineering students who were trying to raise money for a project. They are wonderful (both the students and the bulbs). I like them way better than our florescent bulbs, instantly full brightness and dim-able, have not had one not work or burn out yet. Yes they are expensive but that is the case with early adoption to almost any new technology. I say support LED lighting and prices will rapidly drop.

October 04 2012 at 5:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Randy

The only way the power companies can raise there prices is if consumption goes down. So you will use less power
but the rates will increase. So the power company will make more.

October 04 2012 at 5:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Randy's comment
kevin

Completely backwards there. Power companies are regulated, can't easily raise rates, and have to justify proposed increases. However in many areas rates are scaled on use, costs more the more you use.

October 07 2012 at 10:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
baywindow1

The best light bulbs are the old fashioned ones. [ incandescents ].----I used to buy them -made in Hungary-- with BRASS tips. [screw part] for 25 cents --$ .25 -- and they last for 3 - 10 years. Actually, some are still in the lamps from 18 years ago and still are working just fine. The big companies took away those bulbs and replaced bulbs with aluminum tips --which might last about 7 months [ or less ] --making people buy more to increase their profits !!

October 04 2012 at 5:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jaguar6cy

If 80% of Chinese homes use LEDs, the price there must be pennies. Buying in bulk, as Ikea would, the cost here should be pennies too. Those easily misled into buying all things "green" are supposed to go along with the idea that they have to be expensive. Ikea is a leader in that. The "green" pricing model is if it saves $50 in energy, it will be priced at $50. Liberals and fools go for that concept and Ikea is cashing in on it. Habitual followers always get misled by their leaders. And liberals just know how to follow the pack.

October 04 2012 at 4:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to jaguar6cy's comment
tbensonny

*80% of Chinese homes have "a" LED light source. Not necessarily many of them. Keep in mind they do not have America's McMansions, they have far fewer fixtures per household. Also electricity is very expensive, the Chinese carefully plan what they are going to get out of their refrigerator before they open the door to it, then quickly grab what they need, they do not stand there with the door wide open wasting electricity. American do have many many LEDs in their homes that's what all those blinking little lights on you appliances are.

October 04 2012 at 6:03 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dhakadabay

I have lived in China for 6 years (about a mile from IKEA here in Beijing, as a matter of fact). There are no LED lights for sale at IKEA here except for a small light for a bed headboard which does not have a replaceable bulb. I have never seen LED lights designed for regular fixtures in the local markets. I found the first LED at the local B & Q (a Home Depot equivalent) a couple weeks ago. It was 49 RMB, a little less than $8 US, and fit only smaller sockets. Chinese homes use CFLs almost exclusively; that's all that is readily available here.
One of the BIG problems here in China, obviously, is gathering reliable information, a process which is hampered by the almost total lack of transparency in the media. I see lots of statistics like the "80% of Chinese homes..." bandied about that fly in the face of my experience here. I'd love to know where that particular stat came from and the methodology that was used.

October 06 2012 at 9:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

I switched to LED's and then switched back to the incandescents. The LED"S provided poor lighting and didn't last as long as the incandescents. Also they don't work in enclosed light fixtures nor in dimmers. Maybe this is why the Gov't suspended the idea!

October 04 2012 at 9:49 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to David's comment
pm0501

I recently switched to FEIT LED floodlights and so far I'm impressed! They work well with the dimmers and to color temp is very close to the incondescents I replaced. Yep, they arecostly but, I have circuits with 10 lamps that were drawing 650 Watts but are now drawing 130. I am hopefull thatthey will eventually pay for themselves in consumption and replacement costs. I was replacing each of the incandescent bulbs at least once a year at $5.00 a pop.

October 04 2012 at 11:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
docmetcalf1955

you really need to read the packaging, you had flourescent lighting, not LED's

October 04 2012 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scottilla

I switched all of my bulbs at home to LEDs 2 years 2 months ago. I lost my first one this week. It had a 2 year warrantee.

October 04 2012 at 9:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply